Published: 09/02/2005 - Updated: 03/23/2019
Today for those who follow this type of diet, being a vegetarian is a philosophy of life. It is, of course, a very personal decision that rests on very different arguments and apparently compatible. Since dietary justifications ("it's healthier"), ethical ("It avoids killing animals for consumption") or social ("I am against food and consumer excesses of modern society") to environmental reasons and even humanitarian.
Vegetarians and well fed
There are several vegetarian trends with very definite plus: (the most complete of all the alternatives from the nutritional point of view) Vegetarian diet, including milk and eggs, or their closest approach slopes. Another group, including vegetarians, vegans or who consider honey as animal product and do not consume it, nor take legumes (except soy). Veganism and variant admits legume consumption. Other trends are frugivores that feed exclusively on fresh fruits and nuts, the raw food eating only raw fruits and vegetables, and cereal (macrobiotic diet), consuming exclusively cereals and restrict fluid intake.
Risks of poorly raised vegetarian diets
The vegetarian diet, if not well planned, can cause suffer from deficiencies of certain nutrients that are provided in the traditional food for meat and fish. Among them, easily absorbed iron, zinc and vitamin B12, especially needed during pregnancy (anemia) and the stages of growth and development (to prevent child rickets), times when these nutrient needs are greater. The calcium and vitamin D can also be compromised if not ingested milk or derivatives.
Moreover, the grain regime is very unbalanced system. The quality of the protein that this diet provides to our bodies is insufficient since cereals are deficient in an essential amino acid. And there is the risk of vitamin deficiencies arise: Vitamin A (skin and eye injuries), D (rickets), vitamin B12 (anemia) and vitamin C (scurvy). Reduced absorption of calcium and iron from plant foods is hampered further by the presence of phytic acid or phytate in cereals involved, which increases the risk of rickets and anemia. In addition, the limited fluid intake is compromised the normal functioning of the kidneys.
Bases for a vegetarian balanced diet
But a well-planned diet can meet the needs of energy and nutrients daily. We must balance food, combining and substituting for some other with similar nutritional capacity.
Milk and dairy products (yogurt, cheese, curd, dairy desserts,...), are the main source of calcium, phosphorus and vitamin D (the latter present in whole milk or skim enriched, it is necessary to ensure fixation of calcium in the bones). The organism also can be synthesized under the skin by exposure to sunlight. Dairy also contribute to the supply of quality protein. To increase these nutrients can be added to the skim milk powder or consume food products from fortified soy. Green leafy vegetables, nuts and seeds are also good sources of calcium, but the use of the mineral in the body is lower. We recommend taking two servings of milk or milk products for proper development and maintenance of bone mass.
It is essential to include quality protein daily to ensure synthesis and cell regeneration and growth. The quality of a protein depends on the amount of essential amino acids. When an essential amino acid is missing, the biological value of protein is greatly diminished because the body cannot synthesize proteins if these lack an essential amino acid. And the point is that animal foods contain all the essential amino acids. Hence the importance of intake of dairy and eggs. It is recommended to take an egg and a clear a day mixed with any dish. The plant foods also provide protein, but they lack one or more essential amino acids, so they are incomplete proteins. Cereals and seeds are deficient in lysine, and legumes, tubers and nuts in methionine. However, well combined incomplete proteins can lead to others comparable to meat, fish and egg value. The most interesting combinations are milk and rice (or wheat or sesame or potato), corn-soy milk, vegetables with rice, beans and maize, wheat and sesame soy (or rice), soy and peanut and sesame. Since vegetables are the staple diet, ingesting them worth at least one serving of raw vegetables (salad) and two pieces of fruit a day help make better skin and well washed, and including some citrus. They are food required by its content in vitamins, minerals and fiber.
The most abundant vitamins are C (cauliflower , green peppers , raw tomatoes, lettuce, citrus , kiwi ... ), folate (leafy vegetables) and carotenoids, including beta- carotene, the pigment that gives color to orange-red in certain vegetables (carrot, tomato).
Our body easily assimilates iron from animal foods (heme iron), but suffers difficulty absorbing iron from vegetables. Egg yolk is rich in this mineral. Vegetables that contain more iron are legumes, cereals and enriched grain, figs, prunes, dates and nuts. The association with vitamin C increases the absorption of iron from plant foods, so you should accompany the aforementioned food products rich in this vitamin, some interesting mixes: green pepper with lentils, citrus and lemon juice instead of vinegar in salad. Proteins also favor the absorption of iron. For this reason, it must include (as an ingredient in vegetarian dishes) quality protein such as egg or milk. One suggestion: dry beans sautéed with shredded vegetables and egg yolk.
Vitamin B12 is another nutrient in the deficient diet if it does not include the intake of eggs and milk. Some algae contain B12, but its content is so variable that are not recommended as sole supplement. The market also offers "vegetable meat" fortified with vitamin B12.
Whole foods provide more vitamins, minerals and fiber than their refined counterparts, although it should not overdo their consumption and a diet very high in fiber, phytic acid or phytates and oxalic acid or oxalates (substances in plants) may hinder absorption of iron, zinc, calcium and magnesium.
Enhancing nutrient status of vegetarian diet
The improvement in a food fermentation are digestibility and nutritional value since the microorganisms responsible for this process (yeasts, molds, bacteria) convert food complex compounds, carbohydrates, proteins and fats in simple sugars, and amino acids and free of fatty acids, easier to assimilate. Additionally, microbes synthesize vitamins. Thus bread prepared with yeast, does not have the demineralizing effect of bread made with industry yeast.
Germination increases the content of essential amino acids between 10% and 30%, and does the same with the content of assimilable iron. Furthermore, predigestion of carbohydrates is produced and vitamins synthesized.
You can also substitute food commonly used for the diet is complete and healthy at the same time enriching gastronomically: refined foods with whole, wine vinegar for apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, refined oil for virgin olive oil, salt for sea salt or other seasonings from algae; conventional soy sauces for algae, white sugar for brown sugar, fructose, honey, coffee grains (malt), cocoa for Amasake (sour fermented rice...).
- Breakfast: Milk and honey malt. Bread with cheese and jam. Fruit juice.
- Lunch: mixed salad with egg and / or tofu. Rice with peas. Fresh fruit salad.
- Snack: Toasted whole figs with cream. Yogurt with honey.
- Dinner: pasta soup. Vegetable with potato and cheese. Yogurt Mousse . Nuts.